The People of Aritama

by Gerardo and Alicia Reichel-Dolmatoff, xviii + 483 pages, illustrated, Chicago, the University of Chicago Press, 1961. $8.50

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  • Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans 12, Louisiana

Aritama is a fictitious name for a mestizo village in a semi-isolated small valley among the southwestern foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest mountain range in Colombia, in the northeastern part of the country near the Caribbean coast. Climatically the region is semi-arid except for the semi-annual rains; the high mountain range prevents the coastal moisture from reaching the southern slopes. The Indian component of the village and of the adjacent areas consists of the descendents of those who escaped from the Spanish conquistadores three centuries earlier, while the white component is the offspring of Creoles who came in later from the humid tropical lowlands to the south. The upper part of the village is regarded as “Indian” and the lower part as Creole, although ethnically there is no clean-cut separation.

The authors of this volume are capable social scientists who for years have held responsible positions respectively in the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and the Inter-American Housing and Planning Center, Bogotá.